Let me just say, I know it sounds strange - lentils and tacos generally don't go together. As someone who grew up a stone's throw from Mexico, I know what authentic Mexican food tastes like and I'm sure everyone in Tucson must think I've gone all "east coast" by suggesting that lentils can taste good in a Mexican recipe. But suspend your disbelief because you'll be blown away by how satisfying the end result is! And if you've never cooked with lentils before, don't be scared! They are available in any bulk-food section and are cheap as can be, or you can buy them canned. I love the fact that you don't have to soak them overnight like you do with dried beans, it makes them that much easier to prepare. Lentils are little nutrition bombs, they are low in calories and fat, but full of fiber and many vitamins and minerals. They are also a decent source of protein for all of us vegans and vegetarians. ("Hello daddy, hello mom I'm your l-l-l-l-l-l-lentil bomb!")
In this recipe, the lentils are simmered just long enough so that they're not crunchy, but they stay firm enough to make it a bit toothsome. The spices are spot on, it totally tastes like the seasoning you would get on ground beef at any Mexican restaurant. Smoked paprika works wonders, this is far and away my new favorite spice - if you don't have any, I would invest in some. I got a nice jar of Spanish sweet smoked paprika from Whole Foods for about $7 and I think it'll last awhile because a little goes a long way. The best part is that there are a TON of veggies in here, but they are incorporated so well that you hardly even notice them. And it uses no fat or oil so it's very low-cal and virtually fat-free.
I wanted to share this particular recipe because it is so adaptable. When I cooked this, we made "burrito bowls" like you would get at Chipotle. I layered some brown rice, taco "meat", and simple guacamole (avocado mashed with canned green chiles, lime juice, and salt), and then I made a toppings bar so Johnny and I could put on what we wanted. I chose chopped tomato, cilantro, and Tofutti Cream Supreme (a pretty good sour cream substitute). Johnny isn't a fan of sour cream so he just used tomatoes and I'm happy to report that he loved it! He said this was by far his favorite Mexican-type dish that I've prepared as a vegan, and was better than even Soyrizo or fake meat crumbles. This recipe made a lot of "meat", so the next day I just ate it with some tortilla chips as a snack. It would also be great in burritos, tacos, on top of tostadas or nachos, or even in a quesadilla with some Daiya non-dairy cheese. I also wanted to share this because it is a nice way to avoid all those processed fake meats you can buy at the grocery store. Don't get me wrong, there can be a time and place for those products, but I try to steer clear of anything processed as much as I can. Plus this is soy-free for anyone who wants to or needs to avoid soy. Have I convinced you to give this recipe a try yet?? C'mon, you know you want to!
|This was my finished version. I want some more right now!|
from The Ordinary Vegetarian
(stuffs about 10-12 tacos)
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over (I used french lentils because that's what I could find)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 large bell pepper, chopped (any color)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (any kind)
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
1-1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp lime juice
Heat 1/4 cup water in a large skillet. Saute onion for 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. If the pan starts to dry up and the contents start sticking, add a tablespoon or two more of water. Add in the lentils, carrots, celery, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, bay leaf, and cayenne, and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture starts drying out, add 1/4 cup water or broth.
Remove from heat and carefully drain off any extra liquid (a little bit of liquid is fine, excessive liquid is not desirable). Remove bay leaf and stir in tomato paste and lime juice. Transfer to food processor or blender and pulse a few times, until a crumbly texture is achieved--do not puree (*note - watch yourself here. I got distracted and was looking somewhere else while pulsing and I almost blended it too much!). Serve hot.
Nutrition info per serving (based on 10 servings): Calories 85, Fat 0.1g, Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 143mg, Carbohydrates 15.8g, Dietary Fiber 3.8g, Sugars 3.2g, Protein 5.7g, Vitamin A 48%, Vitamin C 53%, Calcium 3%, Iron 7%.